Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1983. Paramount Pictures, Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Story by Thomas Hedley Jr., Screenplay by Thomas Hedley Jr., Joe Eszterhas. Cinematography by Donald Peterman. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Don Simpson. Music by Giorgio Moroder. Production Design by Charles Rosen. Costume Design by Michael Kaplan. Film Editing by Walt Mulconery, Bud S. Smith. Academy Awards 1983. Golden Globe Awards 1983.
The story of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who dreams of making it as a dancer has become one of the most iconic films of the eighties, countlessly imitated or spoofed and memorialized by a hit soundtrack (including the Oscar winning title theme that still sounds great). Jennifer Beals gives a weak but amiable performance as a woman who works as a welder during the day and an exotic dancer at night (yep, that’s what I said), constantly encouraged by her mentor (Lilia Skala) to audition for Pittsburgh’s ballet academy but held back by her own insecurities and fears. Meeting the ritzy owner of the construction site she works at (Michael Nouri) causes problems for her routine, their genuine attraction to each other complicated by their class difference and the issues this raises. Producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson spent the decade profiting from their good sense for what would appeal to mass audiences of the time, their megahit Top Gun three years later is sort of the male counterpart to this one, in both cases focusing on a complicated character in what is otherwise a plot where not much happens but it all looks great. Beals clearly has body doubles doing all her moves in her most demanding scenes (director Adrian Lyne barely tries to hide it in the conclusion), but there’s something so plucky and unassuming about her that she is worth investing in, while Donald Peterman’s cinematography is dazzling throughout.